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BNI Video helps cable providers compete with Web TV

old fashioned tvA video infrastructure startup called BNI Video is launching today, and it’s unveiling its first two products. With a focus on back-end technology, BNI might not be particularly glamorous, but chief executive Conrad Clemson said traditional cable providers need the company’s technology if they’re going to stay relevant.

The field is currently dominated by older software companies like SeaChange International, Clemson said, but these products leave cable providers vulnerable as more TV content moves online, and as new products like Google TV bring the Web to your television. There are three fundamental problems, he said: Cable providers “brought a knife to a gunfight” with their old-fashioned, “grid box” navigation layout; they don’t have a real presence on non-TV devices; and they can’t improve their service quickly enough, with upgrades often taking more than a year.

BNI claims to solve those problems with its Web-based software. One product is a “video control plane”, another helps providers manage their content-distribution networks (CDNs). The software allows providers to add new applications to their service such as search and social networking, to add new features quickly, and to integrate with video experiences on other devices like mobile phones, BNI says.

The Boxborough, Mass. company has recruited some big-name media and venture backers for its efforts, including Cisco, Comcast Interactive Capital, Time Warner Cable, Charles River Ventures, and Castile Ventures. It has raised more than $17 million in funding.